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Boris tells developers to sell homes to Londoners first

The mayor of London Boris Johnson has told developers to sign a deal that would see all new London homes sold to Londoners first.

Mr Johnson made the announcement in a speech delivered this afternoon to an international property forum at MIPIM in Cannes, France.

The deal, known as mayoral concordat, has already received support from the Major Developer Group, London First, the London Chamber of Commerce and the Home Builders Federation. The mayor’s office said it had been signed by dozens of big and small developers in London.

Asked by Construction News how to respond to some developers who insisted they are already selling to London homeowners first, Mr Johnson said: “Not all of them have been. There have been plenty of marketing suites around the world targeting international investors.”

He insisted there had been strong interest from developers looking to sign up to his target of selling to Londoners first, and claimed around 60 had already pledged to do so.

For the latest from #mipim2014 follow @CNTomFitz on Twitter.

Asked by Architects Journal about the scope to increase office to residential conversions in central London to solve the housing crisis, Mr Johnson said: “I am keen on it, except where you lose office space. There are parts [of London] where you can’t afford to lose too much of your economic driver so you have to be a bit careful.”

Last week Mr Johnson said housebuilding was his top priority. He suggested he would like to see former retail sites, on high streets that are no longer thriving, replaced by residential buildings too.

The mayor will now urge all developers and international investors to back the proposal.

He will write to major developers across the UK to urge them to commit to selling new homes on every development in London to Londoners first, or at the same time they market their properties to overseas buyers.  

In his letter to developers Mr Johnson said: “I want Londoners to be able to live near where they work and to raise their families in our boroughs. Doubling house building must be of benefit to everyone in our city who contributes to our economy.”

However, he said he did not want to deter international investment and stressed the “important economic contributions migrants make to our city”.

He said: “I am therefore writing to ask you to sign up to my new mayoral concordat to promote home ownership for Londoners. This voluntary pledge recognises your commitment to market new homes first or first equal to Londoners. I hope your company can join other respected developers in giving this commitment.”

HBF executive chairman Stewart Baseley, said: “Attracting up-front investment by pre-selling homes is absolutely key, and without it many developments would not go ahead. Selling some properties abroad allows tens of thousands of affordable homes as well as for rent and to buy, to be built for Londoners.

“London has an acute housing crisis and foreign buyers are playing a vital part in helping increase the number of homes being built in the capital. However, the industry wants to ensure that UK buyers have every possible opportunity to buy the homes being built and signed a commitment last year to market in the UK at least at the same time as abroad. We welcome the mayor’s office new initiative that will build on our earlier commitment and ensure the best opportunity for UK buyers.”

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